A few roadblocks emerged before I even set foot in the new Rappourt Brew & Chew, an evolution of the Wine Seller shop in the Plymouth Road Mall at the corner of Nixon. First was the unusual name, which I spelled incorrectly more than once while googling it.
Second was finding how to get in. Entering under the big black-and-white Rappourt sign facing Plymouth, I wandered down a dark hall, missed a small side door, and went back outside before reentering. I texted my sons, who were driving separately, to just park in back.
Waiting for them to arrive, I noticed a group of cheery and relaxed-looking women sharing appetizers and sipping wine and beer at one of the two long picnic tables flanking the entrance. If you saw a close-cropped video of them lounging al fresco like that, you’d think they were in a vacation resort rather than alongside a parking lot in Ann Arbor at 5:30 on a Wednesday.
Entering, we discovered more long communal tables framed by light-wrapped beams, groovy abstract designs on the white walls, and blackout paint most everywhere else. A long bar lines one side, shelves and cold cases of wine bottles the other (they are priced for retail sale, but for a twelve-buck corking fee you can drink on-site and take home what’s left).
After realizing there’s no table service, we went to the bar to order. The menu listed dozens of interesting-sounding salads, sandwiches, and small plates drawn from multiple continents. We asked which were the most popular.
“This is a bar in Michigan, so basically we serve burgers,” the bartender said. “But great burgers. And appetizers to go with the burgers.”
Pushing back a bit, I asked about the “Watermelon Caprese Salad” said to boast olives, feta, dried cherries, herbs, olive oil, and balsamic glaze. He shrugged and said he liked most of the ingredients, but not mixed together.
The burger suddenly sounded good, and Rappourt’s was fine, served on a brioche bun with melted Gruyere, mild onion jam, and pickled onions. It arrived on a small metal baking sheet with a generous salad of soft-roasted grape tomatoes, mixed greens, and mint-and-berry relish, making it more than your average Michigan bar burger. The spring greens were unpleasantly wilted, however, with gummy gray leaves sticking to the fresher ones.
My older son really liked his fried tomatillo BLT, which came with three thick pieces of bacon, an egg, and pickled onion on a hefty ciabatta with lime aioli. My other son finished every bite of his big chicken enchilada verde. Its thick blanket of cheese-covered corn tortillas was softened by a citrus-forward tomatillo sauce; tiny bits of chorizo were dwarfed by huge chunks of white meat chicken.
Having passed on forty-some beer options, we deserved dessert. Another trip to the bar added Pretzel Crust Cheesecake to our tab. It was irresistibly described as having “chocolate ale caramel, shaved chocolate and mousse!” The caramel was tasty and the cheesecake fine, but a soggy crust and barely-there dusting of white chocolate shavings disappointed.
A staffer who came to clear our dishes asked how everything was. A half-eaten dessert spoke for itself, and I mentioned the salad greens could have been a lot fresher. He seemed genuinely surprised to hear it–so maybe we just hit a bad day.
On the way out we noticed the picnic table of women still seemed as blissed out as they had been during the happy hour (2-6 p.m. every day) drink discounts–no wilted greens stood in their way.
Another meal started with a couple of appetizers. Thumbs up for Rappourt’s poutine, a thick, stout-based gravy take on Canada’s national dish. Adding a helping of lean short ribs atop the gravy (atop the beer-battered fries) doubled the yum factor. Bland fried risotto balls with gooey cheese inside were less charismatic.
“Bruised Kale & Roasted Beet Salad” was plenty to share. Intensely flavored marinated beets, brined kale, and creamy chevre made a successful composition with crisp radishes, carrots, and fried chickpeas. Homemade chocolate cake with berry jam was a satisfying finish.
Rappourt’s name made more sense after a couple visits: the place is conducive to hanging out and drinking in big groups. But this new north-side pub also offers a surprisingly customizable food experience. Though I sampled a lot in two meals, I never got to the kung pao wings, moussaka lasagnette, or coconut curry shrimp.
Rappourt Brew & Chew
2721 Plymouth Rd. (Plymouth Road Mall)
Mon.-Thurs. 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-midnight, Sun. noon-9 p.m.
Appetizers $5-$15, salads and sandwiches $10-$13, entrees $12-$15, desserts $7.